Arizona interstates key to new broadband strategic plan
Arizona – Broadband expansion efforts in Arizona are getting a boost with the announcement of a partnership between the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).
Together, the partners will implement the new Arizona Statewide Broadband Middle-Mile Strategic Plan, which supports current broadband expansion efforts on interstates 17 and 19. The Strategic Plan has led to the creation of the Statewide Middle-Mile Network, which aims to increase broadband service along I-17 and I-19 and future expansion along additional interstate and state highways.
Designated corridors for fiber optic conduit installation for the Middle-Mile Network include 141 miles for I-17 between Flagstaff and Phoenix and 60 miles for I-19 between Tucson and Nogales. Both routes combined will add 200 miles of broadband conduit by early 2023.
The Strategic Plan identifies 726,357 households in Arizona within a 5-mile radius of Arizona’s interstates and state routes that are either unserved or underserved in basic broadband connectivity. The state’s efforts on I-17 and I-19 will have the ability to address 148,305 of these households.
Interstates 17, 19, 10, and 40 are rated as the highest priority from the Strategic Plan. These corridors represent about 90 percent of the overall potential for major interstate highways. Current efforts on I-17 and I-19 as well as future expansion will need to support reliable and affordable 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 20 Mbps upload minimum speeds to population centers and businesses located within a 5-mile radius of the interstate highways and state routes.
Broadband expansion along I-17 and I-19 and other interstate and state highways in Arizona will also help address public and private sector connectivity requirements, promote economic development, improve public safety, and encourage innovation in modern technology adoption and support environmental sustainability and quality of life for Arizonans.
The Middle Mile Broadband Network adds to the significant steps in recent years to increase broadband access.
Arizona in 2019 allocated $3 million for Rural Broadband Development Grants. The funding helped enhance broadband infrastructure and increased download speeds for communities of Bullhead City, Page, and Payson, while funding planning grants in other parts of the state.
In 2022, Arizona allocated $100 million for the Arizona Broadband Development Grant to fund broadband development statewide.